Objective: The objective of the present study was to examine the use of medication in an elderly psychiatric inpatient population.
Method: This was a retrospective survey of medication prescribed to the total elderly inpatient population of a single psychiatric hospital. Data collected included basic sociodemographic information, length of stay, number of admissions, frequency of psychiatric disturbance, diagnosis and medication prescribed.
Results: A total of 340 cases were studied, 229 (67%) were female, 324 (95%) had been inpatients for more than one year, 111 (33%) suffered from dementia, while the remainder were in the functional category. In 57% more than one psychotropic drug was used. Over half (56%) of those with dementia were on neuroleptic medication.
Conclusion: Psychotropic polypharmacy was found in this population of elderly patients. Management issues emphasised include the risk of polypharmacy in this age group, the need for staff education, an active pharmacy committee and alternative methods of managing behavioural disturbance in elderly patients in particular those with dementia.